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Please answer, read this every day.....
Apr 10, 2003

Hi, I hope you can help.... I had unprotected encounters 3 years ago and have had swollen glands since then below my jaw and below my ear. I have also had swollen glands above the collar bone, and more recently I can feel hard lumps in the groin and what appears to be lumps behind the ears. I have tested negative on elisa at 3, 7, 10 and 16 months (All were for HIV-1, except the last one which was for 1 and 2). All came back non-reactive. No antibodies detected. Due to the hard lumps in my upper and lower lips I had an MRI scan which apparently revealed that they were enlarged salivary glands, not lymph tissue. I had a biopsy done on the lower lip and 4 of them were removed. The results came back as non-specific and I was told I have chronic inflammation of the salivary glands. I guess this all points to being good news except I have no idea what is going on with my body. My weight has dropped around 15 pounds over the last 2 years, although that could be due to eating better and cutting down on beer. I smoke and have been very stressed for the last 3 years over this. Could either of these issues have caused my salivary glands to swell? Would the non-specific findings on the biopsy rule out HIV? I asked my doctor if HIV would have presented some other result than non-specific and he didn't answer directly, he just said it was non-specific. Logically I know that an elisa performed at 16 months should rule out infection, however with glands popping up and remaining swollen for so long isn't there something wrong with me? The glands under the jaw and ear are noticable at all times and are quite rubbery now to touch. I can move them around with my fingers. I also feel like I have trouble swallowing, as though there is a lump in my throat at all times and I have lost all definition in my neck. I have a hard node at the base of my neck and lumps along the collarbone on one side. I have what appears to be acne or folliculitis on my buttocks that never goes away. I also have a brown patch on my shin that seems to be fading a little but has been there for 5 months. I could test again, but do I need to? I was in a testing cycle that was never ending and just can't move on. My weight has stabilized, but I feel skinny except for my fatty stomach. I would be fine except for the glands in my lips, below my jaw and ear and along my collarbone. There must be something wrong because stress can't cause swollen glands.

I see two ways of looking at this. I am not dead so I presume this wasn't life threatening cancer or something or it would have got me in 3 years. The flip side is I think it could be HIV because that causes swollen glands and doesn't kill you quickly.

What course of action would you advise me to take? Should I just relax and move on or should I try other tests to look at HIV? I can't seem to get over this and I hate that.

Please help me here, I am really struggling with this.

Thank you for your time on this matter, I really appreciate it.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Questions like these need to be sent to our Safe Sex and HIV Prevention Forum. This forum is reserved for those confirmed to be HIV-positive, not those worried about being HIV-positive.

Ill comment, but only very briefly, as this is the wrong forum as I mentioned above. You do not have HIV. All of your negative HIV tests after 3 months repeatedly confirm this fact. Do you need more HIV tests? Absolutely not, unless you are looking to single-handedly support the HIV lab-testing companies by continuing to rack up more negative (and completely unnecessary) tests.

Smoking can cause salivary glands to become inflamed. You should stop. If you are bothered by salivary and neck lymph node swelling, see an ENT specialist for an evaluation. He/She too will tell you to stop smoking and that this is not HIV-related. Finally, you may well need some counseling to help you cope with your irrational fears of a non-existent HIV infection.

Hope you soon get the help you need. Remember, HIV is not your problem; smoking and anxiety are.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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